The Mountaineer Retweet: Baylor (Sigh)

by: Brandon Priddy

@abpriddy

We all knew going in this was going to be a brutal month, we did. It’s one thing to hear it and expect it, but wholly another thing to experience it. It’s been trying, testing, frustrating and just plain demoralizing. You want to step back and say “hey, these are really good teams on the road, just because we lose doesn’t mean we’re bad,” but man it’s tough to take all those shots in a row. They have an exponential effect – the first stomach punch is bad, the second one 4 times worse, the 3rd one 16 times worse…..and on it goes. A month can be a really long time in the desert.

And if I’m being honest I almost threw in the towel on this week’s Retweet. I’ve been swamped at work and it’s tough to find the time and honestly – what do you say after watching your team give up 62 in a game they may well have given up 80 if Baylor had been so motivated? Frankly it’s tough to write after games like that. I like to be a positive guy and there’s just not much of that to be had in the wake of that kind of game.

But I’m no front running Pitt fan waiting for the Notre Dame game to make my one appearance for the year. I’m a Mountaineer Man and I’ve certainly seen worse than this. So let’s strap on our helmets, turn on those lights, jump onto the mantrip and journey into the darkess….

The week started out with such promise. One of the bright spots of this season has been Shelton Gibson making The Leap to bona fide #1 WR. The sophomore still has plenty of room to grow, but he’s done enough to warrant some national attention. Good times!

And they are due to get caught. Hell they’ve been due to get caught for about 2 weeks now. I’ve had that one circled since this entire stretch started and think that the Mountaineers might be well-positioned to give TCU all they want. For 3 years the two teams have battled in a pair of overtimes and a pair of single-point wins with the total score of 98-97. TCU is at that point in the year where you inevitably lay a stinker. TCU is giving up boatloads of points and if you look down their score sheet just tell me that it doesn’t bear a striking resemblance to 2012 WVU. I just think they are ripe to get caught and WVU will be the one to do the catching. October won’t be a total loss – you heard it hear first.

You know what I remember most about the “Bush Push?” Not a damn thing. Because I was doing something better with my time….

First a quick personal note – I’m insanely jealous of Craig Meyer. About a year ago I had the idea to do this exact thing and even talked to a guy who had done one (actually Aaron Torres from the previous tweet) about how to lay it all out. But about that time I started a new job (which I love) and between wife and kids and life it was just one of those things I never got to completely follow through on. I was fortunate enough to write about the game for one of my pieces in TheSignalCaller print magazine and through that talked to Pat White, Tony Caridi and Dwight Wallace about the game (which was amazing) and for the first time understood how close Pat was to packing it in. If you would like to read that piece, we ran it on the game’s 10th anniversary last week – here’s a link.

But my jealousy aside, it was great to see Craig give this game the full treatment that it deserved. He executed this thing flawlessly and I’m so glad that someone was able to do it. For my money this was the most influential WVU game of the last quarter century – it changed the entire program and in many ways planted the seeds for the future Big 12 move. Heck, I liked it so much I’ll link it again here. You learn little tidbits that you never knew and get insights from all the key players. In the midst of a tough stretch, it was a nice break to go back to one of the most magical nights in Mountaineer lore and one day I hope to send my kids back to read this themselves.

Quick non-sequiter before we get to the game, because Chuck Friggin’ Yeager is a bad, bad man and his Twitter feed is great. I think I saw dog-fighting (the airplane kind) tips on there one time. Seriously. Dude is an old school boss and he’s West Virginia’s.

Oh did I mention it was BRIDGE DAY!!!

(OK, I’ve clearly stalling…let’s just do this.)

That was clearly the recipe for success. No better way to keep Baylor from scoring than to keep that offense off the field. And while the WVU ground game put up some numbers, they just weren’t successful enough in 2nd and 4, 3rd and 2 situations to keep drives alive – especially in the red zone at the end of the first half where Dana Holgorsen called 5 runs in 6 plays over 2 drives from inside the Baylor 10 and got 3 points for his trouble.

I have this vision of Pollack coming up with that on like Wednesday night, giggling to himself, preening in the mirror, giggling some more and then grabbing the notepad from his back pocket that he carries around for such occasions. That’s absolutely how that went down and I have zero doubt that he was nudging people after the show asking “hey did you hear my 501(c)(3) joke?!”

The Mountaineer Fashion Corner approves. Probably my favorite road look. Sorry Storm Trooper aficionados, I’ve never been much of a Star Wars guy. Didn’t something Star Warsy happen this week?…….

A surprising development. The Mountaineers continue to be deep and talented at wide receiver and honestly the addition of Sills felt like handing Kate Upton a push-up bra. I mean I’m not complaining…..just saying……..you know what I’m not saying anything. That’s a fabulous look. Carry on.

Still cool. Very, very, very, very cool.

Didn’t really start out great. At all.

And then WVU punched right back. I wanted this so bad for Skyler Howard, I really did. And he was better on Saturday, he was. Not perfect by any means and not quite where we need him to be, but better.

Lost in the frustration with WVU’s third straight loss was how off the charts surgical the Baylor offense is. We saw it two years ago and we saw it again on Saturday. The unfortunate truth is when the Baylor machine is firing on all cylinders, there’s just not a lot you can do. Your best bet is to rattle their QB early like last year, but when they get off to a fast start there’s just no catching them from behind. WVU wasn’t great, but that 62 spot had a lot more to do with the home team than the visitors.

I need more Cody Clay in my life. You need more Cody Clay in your life. Skyler Howard needs more Cody Clay in his life. We all need more Cody Clay in our lives.

And then there was the unexpected emergence of David Sills. It didn’t seem like a place WVU had a lot of need, but it’s hard to argue with the production. It will be interesting to see, given the results (2 catches, 64 yards and a score), if Sills converts full-time. If nothing else he’s getting a crash course in the offense and will be used to the speed of game if he’s ever called upon.

When the story of this game was written, this play was really the beginning of the end. WVU had a chance to pull within 3 points and soften up the Baylor defense even more (not to mention back them off to make room for the running game) but once again Skyler Howard’s timing was off. For a guy who set his early reputation as someone very careful with the ball, these last 3 losses have all been characterized by turnovers from the QB position – some Howard’s fault and some not. The question is which one is the real Skyler Howard? We may find out at TCU.

And this did it. Because the Mountaineer defense managed to stand firm the math wasn’t terrible – down 10 and getting the ball to start the half – but you feel like they came away so dispirited because they knew they’d missed their chance.

Bye Groza Award campaign. You were fun while you lasted.

#1 was something else, man. Poor Rasul Douglas. Never had a chance.

Those are obscenely stupid numbers. Like video game numbers. And not new hard video games, but like Tecmo Super Bowl “Jerry Rice has 58 touchdown catches in a season” stupid numbers. As the incredulous gunslinger put so well in the movie Tombstone after one of Wyatt Earp’s heroic displays – “seen anything like that? Hell I’ve never even HEARD of anything like that.”

Mountaineers on tilt.

On. Tilt.

I’ll allow it. Also I’d love a 3 hour drive to a WVU game every couple years.

Honestly, look at those numbers. How do you compete with that? Just no margin for error. None. Nothing. Nada.

On the one hand it was great to see Shelton Gibson break that kick return we’d all been waiting for. But on the other that was an alltime slam-that-barn-door-with-style-WAAAAY-after-those-horses-took-off play.

They really do. Of all the teams in the Big 12, I like Baylor the least. They just reek of that new money vibe, going out to buy a new car with every bonus and obnoxiously parking that boat in front of their house just because. They’re just kinda punks. I don’t care for you Baylor. Not at all.

Honestly, just not a good week at all.

But hey, at least we’re not Michigan!

As someone who sat in the bleachers and watched Tremain Mack rip out our collective hearts back in 1996, I realize that I should have had more sympathy for what the Wolverine fans were going through, but I just found it wildly entertaining. I guess it’s just human nature to, when we’re at our most miserable, find comfort that there’s someone out there more miserable than we are. Not the best component of human nature, but it’s there. I will not apologize for being human. Suck it, Michigan.

Well that’s all I’ve got for this week. If I can manage it, I might try to throw a quick bye week Retweet together but no promises, work is a bear. A nice bear that pays for all my food and stuff, but a bear all the same. I’ll just leave you with the same sentiment I expressed last week and where I started this week – we’ve got something for TCU. I’m convinced of it. So relax, enjoy the bye week where nothing can really go wrong and get ready for Thursday night in Fort Worth.

Let’s keep the faith, let’s get through this stretch and LET’S GOOOOOO!!!!!!!

 

 

 

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